A recent article by Lloyd Alter on Treehugger reminded me of the good old days of being a teenager in Bulgaria. “Going for a coffee” was a synonym of meeting with friends at the local cafe, sipping the aromatic brew, talking for hours on end. I even remember my dad making fun of me, because we were “going for a coffee” at 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening- an hour, when you should really not be drinking caffeine if you’d like to sleep later on. However, for us it was not only about the coffee. It was about the company, the conversation, the general buzz of sitting with your friends, meeting other people, and having a good time.
It all changed since then. On my way to work every morning I notice so many people, holding their paper or plastic disposable cups, burning their hands while trying to balance their papers, laptop bags and the precious drink. I always wonder, how essential is the liquid in that cup? Is it really that the person would rather risk spilling it all over their suit, than to hold on for half an hour longer and have their coffee when they reach the office?
More and more people use coffee as a mean to cope with their lack of sleep or poor nutrition, but I do not believe this is the main reason for this apparent need of immediate caffeine fix. I believe disposable coffee cups are a trendy fashion accessory. They give the impression that their carrier is extremely busy and important, not having a mere minute to sit and drink a 30ml espresso.
Because, let’s face it, there is (almost?) no single office building, without a coffee machine. There is no reason for anyone not to bring their own coffee cup, fill it up when they arrive at the office, perhaps have a chat or a brainstorm with a colleague, while waiting for the coffee to be made.
And even if the coffee machine at work is broken (or non-existent), many coffee chains offer the possibility to fill your own cup. There are so many options out there- porcelain cups, travel cups, recycled cups, you name it.
I vote against disposable coffee cups. Let’s re-introduce the fashion of sitting down for a coffee, talking to your colleagues or friends, and washing the cups instead of throwing them to the landfills. We can protect the environment, and who knows, maybe become that little bit more social again.